The world has suffered through two ugly years of COVID-19 pandemic, lockdowns and social isolation, and the subsequent economic downturn. With 40 percent of the COVID-19 related deaths, no region has felt more acutely the pandemic’s economic and social consequences than the Americas – from rising poverty to more young people out of work, said Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“These headwinds come atop longstanding challenges in the region, including a lack of opportunity, an accelerating climate crisis, violence and insecurity, endemic corruption.”
“The more people across the region feel these challenges in their everyday lives, the more they are looking for effective governance to help address them,” said Secretary Blinken.
“It’s why the American public and private sectors continue to invest more than any other country in expanding economic opportunity across the hemisphere – from the $10 billion that the U.S. Development Finance Corporation has distributed to projects that are providing low-interest loans to women entrepreneurs, for example, to the $1.3 trillion that the United States provides in annual foreign direct investment to the Americas.”
“A lot of the challenges [the people of Latin America] have faced have caused a loss of confidence in governments and in institutions,” said Kerri Hannan, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. This means that Latin America’s democratic governments need to show up and deliver for their people.
The United States is the region’s top investor. And of course, other countries also offer investment in various projects. Investment that “delivers for the people is really critical,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Hannan. “ But it’s important to steer clear of debt traps masquerading as investment.
“You know, when you sign on for a project and there's strings attached … on an understood debt, or your feet are held to the fire because you really need to get that bridge built. … It's not really a fair and level playing field.”
“Our efforts in working with our partners and allies in the region are making sure that they have the tools to ensure there's transparency … that any projects to build infrastructure or … to provide other services in the region are fair. [That] they follow environmental standards and labor standards,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary Hannan.
“That's the way that we can help governments to continue to deliver for their people better.”